Phnom Penh Municipal Court Deputy Prosecutor Hing Bun Chea revealed Wednesday the reasons behind his decision to drop SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua’s defamation lawsuit against Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Mr Bun Chea wrote in a statement that he dismissed the case because the prime minister said during questioning on Monday that he did not intend to defame nor did he name Ms Sochua in the April 4 speech in Kampot province that triggered the lawsuit.
“Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen acknowledged that Samdech spoke in a public speech…[on] April 4, but he didn’t name Her Excellency Mu Sochua’s and didn’t exaggerate with bad intention to blame Ms Sochua,” Mr Bun Chea wrote.
“In Samdech’s speech on April 4 there was no word to blame someone with bad intention by expressing false activities or exaggerating events in order to affect anyone’s reputation including Mu Sochua,” the deputy prosecutor added. The lawsuit filed by Ms Sochua on April 27 highlighted three allegedly defamatory sections of Mr Sen’s speech that she claimed were directed at her despite the fact that he did not mention her by name. Ms Sochua claimed that the prime minister referred to her as a “thick face,” which can mean brazen, and “strong legs,” which when applied to a woman can mean prostitute.
She also claimed that the prime minister was referring her when he said that some unnamed woman had hugged someone during the 2008 election campaign, but then complained about her shirt being forcibly unbuttoned.
Ahead of last year’s national election, a dispute between Ms Sochua and an RCAF general led to a physical struggle that resulted in her blouse being torn open by the officer.
Mr Bun Chea’s statement, however, only referenced one of the sections of the speech that Ms Sochua referred to in her lawsuit.
“The word ‘thick face’…Samdech didn’t mention Ms Sochua’s name or anyone. This is not an insulting word, this is just a word that our ancestors used to advise their children,” the deputy prosecutor maintained.
“There was no word that insulted or looked down on any individual including Mu Sochua,” he continued. “There was no evidence that allows the prosecutor to charge [Mr Hun Sen] with defamation and insult.”
Ms Sochua said Thursday that the deputy prosecutor had merely repeated what the prime minister had told him during questioning and did not investigate the evidence.
Ms Sochua also said that she didn’t really care about the name-calling, but took issue with the prime minister’s comments about her shirt being unbuttoned.
“The deputy prosecutor didn’t consider the phrase ‘hugged and unbuttoned.’ The prime minister acknowledged that he said that. He confessed it, but the court is still afraid of him,” she said. “This is the foundation of defamation, which has affected my reputation,” she added.
Cambodian Defenders Project Executive Director Sok Sam Oeun said Thursday that since the court dropped Ms Sochua’s complaint, it should also dismiss Mr Sen’s counter defamation lawsuit, which he lodged against Ms Sochua for accusing him of defamation.
“If the court dismissed Ms Sochua’s lawsuit the court should dismiss both cases,” Mr Sam Oeun said. “If you file the complaint and you are accused of defamation, no one will file lawsuits. Then the court has no meaning,” he added.